About the Book:
Title: Wake the Bones
Author: Elizabeth Kilcoyne
Publication Date: July 12, 2022
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Synopsis: The sleepy little farm that Laurel Early grew up on has awakened. The woods are shifting, the soil is dead under her hands, and her bone pile just stood up and walked away.
After dropping out of college, all she wanted was to resume her life as a tobacco hand and taxidermist and try not to think about the boy she can’t help but love. Instead, a devil from her past has returned to court her, as he did her late mother years earlier. Now, Laurel must unravel her mother’s terrifying legacy and tap into her own innate magic before her future and the fate of everyone she loves is doomed.
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Wake the Bones is a unique mix of fantasy and horror. The story is super atmospheric, and the author’s use of imagery and sensory language is so well done. It pulls you into the story and creates vivid and immersive pictures. You can almost feel the air on your skin and the weight of the heat of a Kentucky summer. The setting, a desolate farmland that was once prosperous but is no longer, is a great backdrop to this creepy, suspenseful horror story, and the author’s lyrical style enhances the eerie vibes throughout the book.
There are some strong themes related to friendship, self-acceptance, and finding your place in the world. The characters are complex and dynamic, and they face realistic issues in the midst of a fantastical story of monsters, magic, hauntings, and more. I like that the author explores situations that young adults face, like dropping out of college, living up to parental expectations, finding oneself, friendship, and more.
I also like that the story is told from multiple points of view. Each character has a strong and distinct voice, and you really get to understand the thoughts, feelings, and goals of each. In addition to dealing with the evil that has resurfaced, these characters deal with issues of loving in a small community where everyone knows everyone else, which some love and some loathe. I found it interesting that there were so many relatable issues, including two romances, in the midst of this terrible and scary haunting.
Laurel is a young woman who has dropped out of college and returned home to work on her grandfather’s tobacco farm and resume her taxidermy hobby when she learns she is the key to defeating the evil that her mother kept at bay for years. Her character is interesting, though I enjoyed Christine’s chapters more. Garrett, Ricky, and Isaac are also unique characters and good friends with Laurel. Though they are friends, they all have secrets, and it’s interesting to see these secrets explored, revealed, and faced.
This story is a bit out of my comfort zone, and some parts were a little too much for me. Be sure to check the content warnings before reading the book, as there are many aspects that could be triggers for readers, including blood, gore, death, mentions of suicide, and so much more.
Though I loved the themes, setting, and atmospheric writing, I didn’t connect with the characters or story as much as I’d hoped. They didn’t feel as layered and fleshed out as some of the other aspects of the story, though I did like the LGBT representation. I also found the pacing a bit disjointed. It was so slow at the beginning and didn’t really pick up for me until more than halfway through the book. The magic system was fascinating, but I sometimes felt confused by it. That being said, I do think this book will appeal to readers who enjoy Southern Gothic literature that’s super creepy and atmospheric. Thanks so much to NetGalley, Wednesday Books, and the author for providing a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Be sure to check the content warnings before reading this book. There are many elements that could be triggers for readers.